I’ve recently been alerted to a new invention that I want to bring to your attention here on the Htet Tayza blog; a polymer that might give your phone the ability to heal its own cracked screen.
Drawbacks of tech
With technology, it often feels like two steps forwards, one step back. That’s exactly how I feel about smartphones. They are fantastic inventions; giving us the means to access more information and connect with other people on a far greater level than ever before.
Yet the smartphone comes with one significant drawback; if you drop it and you crack its screen, it’s incredibly hard to fix. The truth is that as technology advances we face new problems, yet there are always people out there who are looking to find ways to fix these issues as they arise.
As it turns out, a new discovery could provide an answer to this pressing conundrum. The Huffington Post reported that in June, French physicist Ludwik Leibler won the European Patent Office’s 2015 Inventor Award for discovering a new type of polymer, called vitrimers.
This polymer is the stuff of science fiction; not only does it have glass like properties, it has the ability to heal itself an infinite number of times. The physicist revealed that he stumbled on the creation by combining two different plastics into one “supramolecular” substance, with molecules that have a “dynamic equilibrium;” neither permanent, nor rigid.
In real terms, this means that vitrimers are sturdy yet mouldable at the same time. This allows plastic made from the polymer to evolve from a solid to a pliant consistency when the temperature changes. In other words, it would be able to heal itself.
Applications of vitrimers
Therefore, if companies started making smartphone and tablet screens from vitrimers, then they would be able to create products that could repair their own cracks. But don’t get too excited just yet, it’s unlikely that a smartphone with a vitrimers-screen will arrive in a store near you anytime soon.
Leibler spoke about the future of his creation in an interview with CNN. He commented that: “We think that the first applications will be in transport, in cars, in planes, in all the applications you have that need toughness, for repair and increasing durability of your objects.” This makes sense; we should probably apply the miracle properties of vitrimers to machines that become dangerous if their screens crack, such as planes, before we worry about using them to improve our smartphones!
So, it really does look like this polymer will give your phone the ability to heal itself, but the applications of this invention are potentially far wider. The scientist noted to CNN that the polymer has limitless applications. This story really proves that one innovation can change the world we live in through ways we can’t even imagine.